America’s Italian Sweetheart

With the release of her new cookbook, Lidia Bastianich talks about her journey from refugee to chef icon.

This article, written by Michele Kayal for Associated Press, appears on ABC News.

Lidia Bastianich: From Refugee to Matriarch of a Food Empire

Lidia Bastianich is America’s Italian grandmother. In a dozen books and on her public television program, Bastianich has schooled American cooks in homemade pasta, the proper use of escarole, and the need to slow down and come to the table.

Not that she’s slowing down, at least not in terms of career. At 68, Bastianich is the matriarch of a restaurant and entertainment empire. Along with her son, Joe Bastianich, and daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali, she has partnered on name brand New York restaurants, created product lines of sauces, pastas and cookware, authored best-selling cookbooks and launched a television production company.

And it’s all built on her reputation for home-style Italian cooking, a palate often punctuated by sauerkraut and other ingredients common to the ethnically mixed region of Italy in which she was born.

Bastianich’s new cookbook, “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine,” (Alfred A. Knopf, $37.50) is part recipe guide, part meditation on history and ingredients. We talked with Bastianich about tips and techniques, and about her rise from refugee to food entrepreneur. The conversation was edited for length and clarity.

Read the full interview and get the recipe for Marinated Winter Squash at ABC News

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